Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Day 30 - Ahmedabad, India

The Thirtieth Day (Tuesday, September 30)

Economically marginalized Muslims in Gujarat State

In the heart of Western India’s Gujarat State lies India’s seventh largest city, Ahmedabad, which has a population of over five million people. Once famous for being the birthplace of Gandhi and his commitment to pacifism and tolerance, Gujarat has now developed into a major centre for Hindu religious zeal known as Hindutva which is seeking to preserve and expand Hindu influence in all of India to the exclusion of Islam and Christianity.

Ahmedabad visibly reflects India’s widening divergence of cultures, just as the Sabarmati River splits Ahmedabad into two distinctly different worlds. On the western side of the river is an increasingly affluent, modern and predominantly Hindu city. India’s modern Hindu elite is present in the commercial district and shopping malls. To the east is an ancient, chaotic and predominantly Muslim walled city of narrow, winding alleys and confined neighbourhoods which reflects Ahmedabad’s Islamic past.

More than one million economically marginalised Muslims live in the city. Often jobless or underemployed and unable to return to their villages, many live on by sheer force of will. They survive in the ghettos and slums and even the progressive Muslim elite now feel the segregation and the economic disparities with the Hindus. This profound human suffering does not have easy solutions.

As believers in Jesus, we acknowledge that the greatest need of the Muslims is Christ. Yet an extremely small amount of evangelistic work in Gujarat focuses on the unreached Muslim peoples of Ahmedabad which include the: Shaikh, Bohra, Memon, Khoja, Pathan and the Sayyid. Most local followers of Jesus openly acknowledge they are afraid to reach out into the Muslim community. Imagine over one million people in Ahmedabad who have practically no Gospel witness. Pray for labourers to bring the Gospel of hope to the Muslims of Gujarat.

Prayer Starters
* Pray that Muslims will realise their inability to meet the demands of God’s perfect law.

* May the true fear of God come upon the Muslims (Proverbs 1:7).

* Ask God to increasingly establish faithful followers of Jesus among the Muslims of Gujarat so they might be examples of godliness and bearers of hope in difficult situations.

I was born in a wealthy Muslim family. Both my father and mother belonged to families with a rich religious heritage. Unfortunately tensions in my parent’s marriage, related to my father’s marriage with a second wife, soon caused my parents to divorce. My mother and I moved several times but eventually we settled in Mumbai.

When I was very young I had a remarkable dream. I heard God calling me and as I looked towards the heavens, I saw the skies lit up with a powerful light. Later I began to study the Qur’an in English. I was disturbed by the Hindu Muslim riots, and the hatred that Muslims had for the followers of Jesus and Jews. Eventually I stopped praying and practicing Islam. I still had a belief in God, but I was angry and I often contemplated suicide. One day when I was seriously considering killing myself I dozed off and had an amazing experience. I could see myself standing near a certain statue of Jesus at a place which I knew very well. I sensed a divine peaceful presence, but I still resisted God in my thoughts. About a year later when I visited that place much to my surprise I saw the words of Jesus written below the statue, “I am the Resurrection and the Life”.

Things went badly for me in business and in my relationships, so eventually I thought of killing various members of my family and joining the mafia or a jihad movement. But one night I woke from my sleep and I plainly saw the face of Jesus in my room. I heard His voice speaking, “From now onwards you don’t have to be sad anymore; all your pains and sufferings are mine; that is why I went on the cross for you.” Amazingly at that moment my anger, hatred, fear, sorrow and negativity left me. Joy and peace came into me and I awoke fresh and cheerful. Months of tension and pain left me. Soon I met others from a Muslim background who have had similar experiences to my own. I began to compose poems and songs for my Lord. Encountering Jesus has created a passion within me to worship God.

HT: 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus

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